Malmaison, the luxury boutique hotels brand has announced the launch of a new menu at its brasseries, as well as updated bar and room service menus.
Ahead of the press evening launch Pebble Soup HQ was invited to dinner.
Rest assured, I won't be reviewing room service. When I asked him if he could join me to Malmaison loosely translated as "the Naughty House", he said "Yes" with the most Honourable of intention: Trying out the new menu.
Though, when we headed down the winding iron staircase in the Malmaison hotel to reach the brasserie and bar situated in the basement, stylishly decorated in sensual colours of deep purple, yellows and reds, sultry lighting, it felt as if you could have been on a first date.
The feeling was reinforced by the cocktails list which is given high pride of place. Each barman creates a cocktail weekly, the beverage which sells the most wins him the honorific medal of cocktail of the month.
We were offered a champagne flute of delightfully refreshing Daria's Passion "A frothy mixture of Chistalnaya Vodka with Apricot Brandy and Strawberry liqueur orange and pineapple juice", accompanied by crispy baguette and tapenade. Malmaison knows how to set the stage.
I think this is the part of the evening I enjoyed the most. There is something about being cocooned in lovely company with a perfectly balanced cocktail in one hand and serious nibbles in the other. A great way to unwind.
One thing to know about Malmaison: the management team regards food as an integral part of the business, contrary to a lot of hotels, special attention is paid to the dining experience. Only top products are sourced, local traders are involved which only heighten the quality.
Being at the top of their game in hospitality helps. When it comes to the front of the house, our waitresses did a perfect job, they were knowledgeable, fun and attentive. They created an instantaneous, easy and cosy relationship which was a big part of our enjoyment.
For starters I chose the smoked salmon blini, crème fraîche and caviar. He opted for a selection of cured meat and cheeses from the Specials. Starters as well as all the dishes we were served were visually stunning however flavour-wise they worked with a degree of success. My gluten free blini was not quiet right but the salmon and caviar were very tasty. The same applied for his dish. The recommended Sauvignon blanc Mamaku from New-Zeland @6.25 a glass was perfect with both dishes.
For main, what else but to try the infamous Mal Burger, it is so big that it has to be held together with a wooden stick and attacked with a meat knife, it oozes with melted cheese and comes with a tomato sauce in the cutest copper small dish. fries on the side. The ultimate comfort food, it looked brilliant but his verdict was : "Some dishes don't translate to posh." Though the plancha was neatly polished.
My Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Steak was cooked to perfection and its Warm Niçoise Salads was new on me, lightly braised lettuce and blanched vegetables were all very pleasant, it doesn't really gel as a dish but individually every thing tastes very nice and certainly big enough which is a real plus.
Time to loosen our belts for dessert, I chose the Classic vanilla crème brûlée. This was not crème brûlée as I know it, it was creamy and just out of this world. I was in love. All desserts are priced at £6.50, A glass of Hungarian Tokaji @£7.95 complemented them both nicely.
Service was outstanding
Food overall good, definitely not cutting edge, every single dish had its ups and downs. They were visually very good, and every effort is made to source food well.
Prices are reasonable with starters between £7.00 and £8.50 - Our mains at £16 and £17- Portions are very generous. All cocktails are priced @£9.00 tapenade @£4.00
location is slightly too subterranean for me, but it's tastefully done.
In numbers 7 out of 10
18-21 Charterhouse Square
London EC1M 6AH
Tel. + 44 (0)20 7012 3700
Disclosure: I would like to thank warmly Malmaison for inviting us to dinner and give Pebble Soup HQ a heads up.